April 15, 2021

Democrats plan to introduce legislation to add four seats to the Supreme Court. If passed by the Senate (big if), the bill would allow President Biden to name four nominees to fill those seats. It won't become law as long as Democrats maintain such a narrow Senate majority, but 2022 is coming up and it's a brushback pitch to warn SCOTUS conservatives about nakedly partisan decisions. Via Vox:

The bill, which is being introduced by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Hank Johnson (D-GA), and Mondaire Jones (D-NY) in the House and by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) in the Senate, is called the Judiciary Act of 2021, and it is very brief. It amends a provision of federal law providing that the Supreme Court consist of a chief justice and eight associate justices to read that the Court shall consist of ‘‘a Chief Justice of the United States and twelve associate justices, any eight of whom shall constitute a quorum.”

Although the Constitution provides that there must be a Supreme Court, it leaves the question of how many justices shall sit on that Court to Congress. Under the Judiciary Act of 1789, the Court originally had six seats, and it briefly had 10 seats under President Lincoln.

Realistically, the bill is unlikely to pass anytime soon. Until recently, adding seats to the Supreme Court was considered a very radical tactic — President Franklin Roosevelt proposed similar legislation in 1937, and it did not end well for him. President Biden has in the past expressed reluctance to add seats to the Court.

But the politics of Supreme Court reform have moved very quickly in recent years, and it’s possible to imagine a critical mass of lawmakers rallying behind Court expansion if a majority of the current justices hand down decisions that are likely to outrage Democrats, such as a decision neutralizing what remains of the Voting Rights Act.

Expect Republicans, who in recent years have made an art form out of manipulating the Senate confirmation process, to squeal like stuck pigs at the mere possibility that all their maneuevers were for naught.

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